Sen. Jeff Merkley [D-OR] has sponsored a new Bill — S. 3515, or the Protect America’s Privacy Act of 2012.

It is important that you support this Bill to stop the continued erosion of our constitutional freedoms by the US government, starting with the hysterical response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks that resulted in an unprecedented and illegal power grab called The Patriot Act, signed into law by then president George W. Bush.

Call or write your congressional representatives and express your support for  Bill S. 3515, the  Protect America’s Privacy Act of 2012. If you don’t know the email address or telephone number of your congressional representatives, and can help. Exercise your legal right and moral responsibility to participate in the democratic processes and issues that profoundly affect all our lives.

You can make a difference. America needs you, because without your active participation in the political process, the democratic foundation upon which this country was built fails to provide the important checks and balances that keep our country strong and our freedoms safe. Take action.

One of the problems with democracy in America — or what’s left of it — is the shockingly high level of complacency practiced by its citizens. Tyler Durden writes in that,

. . . the “democratic” process is slowly but surely completely breaking down in the US. Of virtually the entire developed world, American voter turnout is the second lowest of all countries . . . Furthermore . . . it is astounding that less than 25% of America’s voters set the political stage every four years . . . And so the pillage of what’s left of the American middle class will continue, with nobody batting an eyelid, until such time as the only items left in said class’ possession are various weapons of assorted muzzle velocity and other sharp and/or dull but heavy objects.

Clearly, many Americans view freedom less as a right they must fight to protect than another entitlement to be doled out by the government. But it’s the growing hubris and power of government that we need to protect ourselves against. I don’t think most Americans realize just how important this is NOW.

Published on 9/12 in, Shahid Buttar describes how congress is preparing:

. . . to abuse the Constitution again, by extending its 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) . . . [update: the FISA amendments were extended. Big Brother is watching you.]

I'm Watching You

Is the US government abusing its constitutional powers?

When Congress first voted back in 2008 to give the National Security Agency the power to eavesdrop on any—in other words, every–American without any reason for individual suspicion, it did so without a full picture of what it allowed. Indeed, the full contours of the program remain secret even today. . .

Even though much of it remains shrouded in secrecy, we do know a few things about the NSA’s warrantless spying program authorized by FISA.

We know that it began illegally, without any authorization by Congress and in clear violation of the FISA law crafted by Congress in the 1970s to stop our government from spying on Americans. . . 

We know that an architect of the program, alarmed at how his work was co-opted to abuse the rights of Americans, blew a whistle about fraud and waste, only to face prosecution by the Obama Administration for espionage–until a federal court ultimately told the government to stop chasing a loyal servant of the American people.

We know that the NSA has violated even this incredibly permissive law, abusing its own powers and the rights of untold numbers of Americans. Our government has admitted to that much, without offering any way to know how widespread those violations have been — or remain. . . 

We know that congressional Democrats–including then Senator Obama–joined their Republican colleagues in 2008 to approve FISA, even while both parties paid lip service about defending constitutional values in Washington. Despite the partisan rancor apparent on many issues, Congress marches in lockstep on national security, elevating government power well beyond constitutional limits. . . 

We know that FISA has enabled the most pervasive state surveillance system ever known to humankind. . . 

Until President Obama signed a 2011 law granting our military the potential power to detain any American indefinitely without proof of crime, FISA was the high water mark of the post 9-11 national security state.

The 2011 legislation that Obama signed is called the National Defense Authorization Act, a moral crime that will blight his record forever. It strikes at the very heart of the US constitution, which upholds the right of every citizen to legal protections and due process. Without these important protections, the US government becomes a de facto police state.

So much for innocent until proven guilty. So much for limited government. What Americans are now facing is quite literally the end of the line. We will either uphold the freedoms baked into our Constitutional Republic, or we will scrap the entire project in the name of security as we wage, endlessly, this futile, costly, and ultimately self-defeating War on Terror. . .

We’re talking about the stripping away of our most basic freedoms. We’re talking about a potential state that can call me a terrorist for writing this blog post and then lock me up and throw away the key.

Matt Lockshin from CREDO Action has informed us by email that the House of Representatives has just “voted to renew the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, a sweeping, Bush-era law that allows our government to trample our constitutional rights in the name of “national security.”” He goes on to warn that,

. . . loopholes in the law allow massive amounts of warrantless spying on innocent Americans.

The FISA Amendments Act will expire unless it’s renewed before the end of the year . . .

Pick up the phone and tell . . . [your elected officials to] Stand with Sen. Jeff Merkley to end warrantless spying on Americans . . . 

We need to back up Sen. Merkley, who is courageously standing up for our constitutional rights — something few politicians have been willing to do in the decade since September 11.

While Sen. Merkley’s bill does not . . . roll back the worst abuses of the PATRIOT Act . . . it does make three major changes to the warrantless wiretapping program that help us end some of the abuses of the Bush era.

. . . As ACLU Legislative Counsel Michelle Richardson said:

“This bill will give the FISA Amendments Act the overhaul it so desperately needs, restraining the government from unconstitutionally collecting and using vast amounts of data about innocent Americans. These amendments would allow collection against foreigners to continue while better protecting Americans and should be considered a win-win for both the intelligence community and the Constitution.”

We need to stand up for our constitutional rights and end warrantless government spying on Americans.

The Justice Act would make significant inroads in rolling back some of the recent moves by government to destroy constitutional freedoms. If we fail to act now to prevent these abuses, one day it may be too late.

Support the JUSTICE ActThe JUSTICE Act would reform the USA PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendments Act and other surveillance authorities to protect Americans’ constitutional rights, while preserving the powers of our government to fight terrorism. It is easily the most aggressive proposal in Congress to roll back executive power.

This ACLU page provides a good summary of what’s in the Justice Act and why you should voice support for it to your representatives in congress.

Senator Russ Feingold and nine other senators introduced S. 1686, the JUSTICE Act in the 111th Congress, which reforms our surveillance laws, including the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, an even broader expansion of government power. The bill reins in the government’s spying powers by, [in summary]:

Protecting the privacy of records.

Protecting the privacy of communications.

Protecting the privacy of homes and businesses.

Protecting First Amendment rights.

Targeting terror prosecutions on those who intend to help terrorists.

Holding companies responsible for conspiring with the government to break the law.

The most valuable resource America has is an active citizenry. Complacency leads to weakness, and that process has already started. It’s not too late.


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